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Celebrating the 2022 Susan D. Flynn Oncology Nursing Fellows

August 12, 2022

Congratulations to the 2022 Susan D. Flynn Oncology Nursing Fellows on the completion of their summer fellowships! Fellows Charlotte Hamilton, University of Connecticut, and Edna Yilma, Quinnipiac University, were hosted by Greenwich Hospital, while Madeline Perrino, Catholic University; Natalie Kennedy, Sacred Heart University; and Lydia Grist Manrique, Sacred Heart University, were hosted by Smilow Cancer Hospital.

The Fellows completed 8-week rotations featuring direct observational and learning experiences including exposure to ambulatory oncology nursing, acute care medical and surgical oncology nursing, infusion services, and more. The Fellows also completed evidence-based research projects on topics of their choice related to Oncology Nursing, presenting their projects at the completion of the program to the Smilow nursing team and various leaders. At the graduation ceremony, Kim Slusser, MSN, RN, CHPN, NEA-BC, Vice President for Patient Services, and Tracy Carafeno, MSN, RN, CMNL, Nursing Director, Smilow Inpatient Service, provided remarks. Fred Flynn, husband of the late Susan Flynn and founder of the Susan D. Flynn Oncology Nursing Development Program, was also present. Kristina Capretti, Clinical Program Director at Smilow Cancer Hospital Care Center at Greenwich, joined the ceremony via Zoom.

Special guests at this year’s ceremony included Dr. Robert Lang and his daughter, Stephanie Rubino, as well as Anne Earle. Anne graciously sponsored a Flynn Fellow this year in memory of a family friend, Catherine Kandefer-Lang, the late wife of Dr. Lang. Catherine received care in her final days at Smilow Cancer Hospital. So moved by the impact of her experience, including that of Catherine’s oncology nurses, Anne decided to sponsor a fellow in Catherine’s memory, and provided the following remarks at the graduation ceremony:

Congratulations to all of you Flynn Fellows, your parents and to those who contributed to your experience at Smilow Cancer Hospital. I am so impressed with you, your cutting-edge research and your presentations.

This is my first Flynn Fellow graduation and the first year that I have had the privilege to sponsor a Flynn Fellow in memory of a friend and mentor, Catherine Kandefer-Lang. Cathy was not only integral in my life, but particularly instrumental in my son Cabot’s life.

We met Cathy, an esteemed executive coach, in 2002 after the untimely death of my husband of colon cancer. Not only did she coach Cabot (22 yrs old) professionally, but she became his guiding light for the next 20 years.

Unfortunately, Cathy was diagnosed with Stage 4 Liver cancer and not expected to live very long. However, Cathy had powers beyond anyone’s expectations and lived another 18 months, due to the support and compassion of family and the oncology nurses at Smilow where she spent her final forty days.

Seeing the impact that Cathy had on others inspired me to sponsor a Flynn Fellow in her memory who would perpetuate her spirit, leadership skills, optimism, compassion and empathy.

Serendipitously, an aspiring oncology nurse, Natalie Kennedy, from my hometown of Westerly, RI, surfaced! In addition, she attends Sacred Heart University, the alma mater of Cathy’s oldest grandson.

Dr. Robert Lang, Cathy’s beloved husband and Stephanie Rubino, her beloved daughter, are here to witness this tribute to Cathy.

Thank you! And again, congratulations to all of you Fellows who will clearly make a difference in oncology nursing and in the care of your patients.

Of the more than 200 Flynn Fellows who have graduated into the workforce to date, more than two-thirds have taken positions as oncology nurses and 46 are working in Connecticut hospitals.

Submitted by Eliza Folsom on August 12, 2022